I’ve written quite a bit about hydrogen fuel cells over the past couple of months from those who are reducing the need for platinum in FC’s to those who are eliminating it altogether. But in tough economic times like these the hydrogen fuel cell is taking quite a roller coaster ride.
On the positive side, the University of Delaware is launching its Center for Fuel Cell Research (CFCR) program with the goals of improving performance and durability of FC’s using novel materials and creative strategies.
Another part of the goal for the University of Delaware is educational outreach in regard to hydrogen fuel cells. Right now the U of D has one fuel cell bus and by 2011 they are planning on having four to showcase.
On the not so positive end of the hydrogen fuel cell spectrum are the companies especially during the holidays that are laying off employees. One such company is UltraCell that has just laid off 6 employees in November and retaining 12 people (a new government contract could help out improve this, though).
At the beginning of this year UltraCell had planned on adding 25 to 30 jobs. In 2006, the master plan had been to add 360 jobs by 2010 at the new plant they had built. A shift in building sub-assemblies for fuel cells to the finished products is the new strategy for saving the fledgling Ohio company.
There are also 500 engineers in the General Motors Fuel Cell Center in Honeoye Falls, New York that are eagerly awaiting information about the automotive bailout plan. While the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) is still hopeful about future growth in the fuel cell marketplace, the current economy will be a bumpy ride for many in this industry.